Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mango Kulfi Straight Out Of The Mold! Plus, A GitaDini Giveaway!

   I've been pretty busy since the last time I posted here. I've come a long way from the hazelnut cookies. I meant to get back here sooner but...idili. Anyone who's ever tried making those soft pillowy treats knows what I'm talking about. Idili may look deceptively simple, but unless you're making them from a package mix, they're not that easy. First there's the soaking of the rice and dal, then there's the grinding, then there's the fermenting and with the temperature dipping below freezing up here in Sonoma right now it's not the most salubrious time for that process.
   But why Idili, and why now? Well the  nice people at Gitadini USA  were kind enough to ask me if I'd like to try out their new silicone idili molds.

I use many of their products in my own kitchen and so of course the answer was YES! Idili I thought, no problem. I'd made idili before, what's the big deal? The big deal as it turns out was I needed a good idili recipe. In the past I'd made rava idili but could not find my recipe for that. So what does one do about a missing recipe? I went to the source of my Indian cooking and contacted the person who started me on this path 25 years ago. I called my sister in law.
   When I told her I was making idili, she laughed. "From scratch? Nobody in India bothers to make those from scratch any more. It's too much work. Why do you want to make idili anyway?"
I explained about the molds, how cute the half  moon shapes were, how I'd planned a wonderful fresh coconut chutney, how I'd invited people over... My sister in law uses the old fashioned idili steaming tray, the same one I've used before on the rare and distant occasion when I'd made idili. I explained how beautiful these new silicone steamers were, how I was dying to break them in.

   "Good luck" she said, "get a mix."
   I plowed ahead with my soaking and grinding  (I'd found a recipe online), I poured  my rice and dal into my Ninja blender and got a batter. I turned on my warming oven to its lowest setting then turned it off and popped the bowl of idili batter wrapped in a towel inside. Sunday morning I'd planned to have idili and chutney and chai. Dreamer. As I waited by the steamer, I was starting to get discouraged.

My idili fantasy turned into a nightmare.  Instead of pillowy soft  cloud like idili, I had tough idili.

So tough they refused to leave the molds. Now we're talking silicone molds here so those were some hard ass idili. Shockingly, when I tried in my embarrassment to toss them, no one would let me.  It seems, though the texture was totally wrong, I'd  devised some sort of breakfast crumpet, that paired with the spicy coconut chutney tasted delicious. As long as you don't look at what you're eating. So ok, a week wasted on failed idili recipes. I was back to square one and googling idili mixes when I started my cancer treatment.
   My tumor was very very small and thankfully had not gone anywhere when I had surgery at UCSF in December. I fall into a grey area as far as additional treatment goes. Very small cancer, no nodal involvement, to treat or not to treat. As it turns out, with targeted biologic treatment the survival rate goes from 90% up to 98% and I like those odds a whole lot better, so I'm doing that. It won't impact my hair etc and I'm glad for my weird mutated DNA that there's something that works on it, as opposed to 25 years ago, when I had a much riskier situation. In short they hadn't even discovered my gene yet. So I've been running around dealing with that, and banging my head against the idili wall ( which in my case is not pillowy and soft)!

   I knew I needed to regroup, clearly this idili thing needed further study. It was either fly my sis in law out here for further research, (she had plans to go to Key West where it's even warmer), buy a mix or pour something else into those molds. But what??? Then it hit me, Kulfi! Easy, sweet, and who doesn't like ice cream? It could even be made vegan if I so desired. So Kulfi it was.

Mango Cardamom Kulfi

Here's What You Need:
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped
1 can evaporated milk (full fat)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of whipping cream
1 large pinch of ground cardamom

Here's What To Do:
Peel and chop the mangoes into pieces. Here's how:

Puree the mango in a food processor or blender and set it aside.

In  a bowl whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and the evaporated milk.

 Add in the whipping cream.

And the pinch of ground cardamom.

Whisk the pureed mango into the milk mixture, blend it in well.

Pour the kulfi  into the molds. Don't fill them all the way up as it will expand slightly.

Cover the top of the molds with foil and place them in the freezer until they are solid.

This takes a few hours, so plan ahead.
When the kulfi has set, unmold...

...and enjoy!

   I really loved these GitaDini molds and they're letting me share a mold with someone. So if you'd like to get one of these idili molds drop me a comment. Let me know what you're planning. These molds can be used for ANYTHING, and not just idili. Bake in them, make ice cream, a savory dish, whatever.

   Just give  @GitaDiniUSA and @kathygori a shout out on Twitter, or just leave a comment right below. It's all good. I'll choose someone via in one week. To win. you must reside in the USA.

   I've been using GitaDini products in my home for several years now I know you're going to love them just as much as I do! Coming up next, I shall not surrender the idili fight and more easy Indian recipes for busy days and nights, follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Last Indulgence: Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut Cookies.

hazelnut cookies
   Finally I'm looking at the holidays in the rear view mirror. I'm also looking at other stuff in the rear view mirror and it's time for some serious treat cutbacks. As the Monty Pythons used to say:

   "And Now For Something Completely Different!"

But before we go all veg and vegan on ourselves once again, one final thing I could not resist.

Hazelnut cookies to be precise, and to be even more honest, I was planning on getting this recipe up well before the 1st, but.... New Years Eve, Parties, More Parties. You get the drift. So, better late than never as I always say. In the meantime, between first baking these cookies and then baking them again, my friend Anne at Cocoaplanet suggested that I might drizzle my macaroons with melted Cocoaplanet chocolate. Which I did and they were freaking amazing. So if drizzled chocolate is good on macaroons how would it be on something else? Duh. Before I knew it I was melting and dipping like mad, and this is what comes of going down that path. The recipe comes from the famous French confectionary A la mere de famille, the dipping part comes from Anne's influence, and since she's French...she has to be right.

Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut Cookies

Here's What You Need:
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs softened melted butter
1  1/3 cups of powdered sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
2  3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups of chopped hazelnuts
3 oz of semi sweet  dark chocolate (I used Cocoaplanet deep dark truffle)

Here's What To Do:
In a large mixing bowl add together the flour...

...and Baking powder, set the mixture aside.

Chop the hazelnuts roughly in a food processor or by hand then set them aside.

In a large bowl or a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter.

Mix it together until it's pale and fluffy, then add in the eggs.

Add them in one at a time until each is well blended.
Add in the flour baking powder mixture.

When that's well mixed, fold in the hazelnuts by hand.

Roll the cookie dough into a fat roll, and wrap it in waxed paper.

Shove it in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
If you are planning on baking these cookies right away (hey why not?) preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Set your oven racks to the upper and lower middle position in the oven.
When the dough has firmed in the fridge take it out and flatten the roll.

You want to get a long rectangle about 2 inches thick.

Use a sharp knife and cut the cookies into rectangles.

Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mats and pop them in to bake.

Bake them for about 12 minutes, or until golden.
Take them out of the oven and cool them on a cookie rack.

So, this is what I thought I had.....

Then came Anne's suggestion. So here's how to do the chocolate dipping.

Melt your chocolate either in a Pyrex bowl sitting in a heated pan of water on the stove, or quick and dirty, a few seconds (30 perhaps) in the microwave.
When the chocolate is all melty and soft, use a pastry brush and apply it to the cookies.

Let the chocolate dry.

Then, if you can wait that long, enjoy!

hazelnut cookies

   So, I must confess I started brushing almost the entire batch of cookies I'd made, they were that good. Hazelnut cookies are not super sweet, in fact they have a nice nutty flavor that's enhanced by the addition of chocolate. Think Nutella.
   Now, for something completely different, back to the wonderful world of Indian food and finally idili, where I take my new idili maker for a spin. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Years Eve! A Round Up Of Stuff To Serve.

   This is going to be the first time in several years that we're going to a party at someone else's house this New Years Eve, so I'm not going to be cooking tonight. However, if you are, or you're having guests tomorrow, you might want to take a look at some recipes for the Gluten Free, such as this Gluten Free Pear Almond Cake.

A quick and easy Indian style slaw from Monica Bhide that is a big favorite at our house. Just use those pre-shredded bags of cabbage found at any supermarket and you can have this on the table in two shakes.

Stick a bit of Homemade Salted Pistachio Brittle on that store-bought ice cream for a fancy touch! This stuff also makes up fast, fast, fast for a last minute treat.

Want a quick gluten free dessert that's also vegan??? Buy some of the persimmons that are on sale everywhere now. Freeze them and toss them in a food processor. Voila!  Fast Non-Dairy Ice Cream. You can also duplicate this recipe with any frozen fruit from the market.

Want something for the buffet? Forget about using nettles. A simple bag of pre-washed spinach will give you these little gluten free Gnudi aka Koftas aka Dumplings in no time.

Cocktail foods? Make your own kale chips, its easier than you think.

For the meat eaters, here's one of the worlds great bar foods, Chicken '65. Fix this and your guests will love you forever.

Gluten free guests coming tonight? Put a plate of these Coconut Ladoo out for them. It's a fast and easy treat to make.

So there you have it. A few quick and easy things that can be made for a crowd. Granted some are quicker and easier than others, but you get the drift.

   I hope everyone has a  safe and sane New Years Eve, and if you can't do that at least find yourself a designated driver. I for one am looking forward to seeing the backside of 2014 in my rear view mirror. Until the New Year, Cheers! Have a Happy One.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Who Needs Ready Made? Make Your Own French Butter Cookies, Just Slice and Bake.

   For somebody who claims not to bake a lot of cookies, I sure have been baking a lot of cookies lately. Why is that? Well, there have been a hell of a lot more parties this season and cookies are an easy last minute bring along. Pop-ins are another. Since we've been in the new house we've learned to expect those. Finally holiday house guests, and nothing says welcome more than a plate of fresh baked cookies, or not so fresh baked as it turns out. More on that later. Either way, I've really been breaking my no cookie rule this Winter and as it turns out, not regretting it one bit.

   Every time I go to the market (and I'm talking nearly every day here) I always notice big rolls of pre-made dough in the refrigerated section. I also start wondering just how hard is it to make your own, slice and bake cookies using minimal fresh ingredients, no preservatives, no additives, just real stuff. Turns out not so hard at all. Professional looking butter cookies take just a few minutes, and you have total control over what goes into them. Nothing wrong with that! For these cookies I used local cage-free eggs, and grass-fed butter which if you're going to eat butter is the butter you'll want to use. Simple, local (as you can get) and clean. Now for the easy part. Making cookies.

French Butter Cookies

Here's What You Need:
3 egg yolks (save the whites for another recipe)
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup measure) plus 2 Tbs more
1 1/4 cup of flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

Here's What To Do:
In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer, cream together the egg yolks...

...and the sugar.

Cream them together until they're nice and thick and pale.

 Add in the softened butter.

Mix it until it's well combined.
Then add the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Mix this together.
When it's blended, take it out and roll the dough into a ball.
Cover it with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge to chill overnight. 

Yes, this recipe takes planning, but once you've made the dough it's on your schedule.
When you're ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Lightly grease cookie sheets and cover them with parchment paper, or if you don't want to do that use silicone mats.
Take the chilled dough out of the fridge.
Roll the dough out so it's about 1/4 inch thick.

Then take a biscuit cutter and cut out cookies Place them on your baking sheets.

And put them back into the fridge to set for another 30 minutes or until they're nice and firm again.

Take them out and pop them into the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes. While they're baking sit around looking pleased with yourself dude, you just beat the food industrial complex!

Watch the dog take a nap. Did you know dogs sleep on average 14 hours a day?

Look out the kitchen windows and check out the tail on that squirrel!

When the cookies look nice and golden, take them out and cool them on a baking rack.

Arrange them stylishly...

...and serve them up.

   Notice all the cookies? Well, the dough for these was made ahead of time. it can be refrigerated or if properly wrapped in waxed paper, stored in the freezer. Just take them out, slice, and bake. follow these directions and you're all set cookie-wise. Once baked and cooled the cookies can also be put into an air-tight container, think tupperware type, and frozen for later. My friend Jane the Nurse told me that this worked and by god it does!!

   So bake once, slice twice, or three times, you will never ever run out of homemade cookies. Coming up next. Preserving and protecting those fabulous Fuyu Persimmons before they go out of season. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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